Today’s read included John 6. This chapter contains enough truth to fill a volume of theology, and I hardly dare to even comment on it in a short blog post on Facebook. But I cannot skip over it. The chapter opens with the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 (which was more likely 15,000-20,000 counting the women and children present). Jesus takes five small barley loaves and two fish, gives thanks to the Father, and they are distributed to the people, enough so that they all ate and were satisfied, and had 12 baskets of leftovers.
This miracle of physical sustenance leads to a conversation about the bread which gives eternal spiritual life. Jesus knows many of the people are simply following Him to get their bellies filled and watch a show. They do not believe He is the One sent from God. He then proceeds to teach us about true salvation. Here are five observations, all straight out of John 6.
1. No one can come to Jesus unless the Father first draws them.
2. Jesus will never refuse anyone who comes to Him in sincere belief and faith.
3. It is not enough just to “see” Jesus. We must believe in Him as the One sent from God.
4. Salvation (eternal life) is offered to “anyone” who has “heard and learned” from the Father, who “beholds the Son and believes in Him.”
5. Belief in Jesus is more than an intellectual recognition or an attempt at being “good” by living according to the Bible’s moral code.
True belief means that Jesus becomes the very source and substance of our lives. Jesus uses the analogy of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. He is not talking about cannibalism, nor, do I believe, is He making a case that communion wafers and juice/wine somehow mystically become His physical body. Jesus Himself explains to His disciples that He is speaking about spiritual things, not physical things. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” (6:63) Physical bread and wine do not impart spiritual life.
Jesus has just fed the people with bread that miraculously multiplied, and proclaimed Himself as the “bread from heaven,” the “bread of life” sent from God. Those who “eat and drink” of Him will never again experience spiritual hunger or thirst but will be more than satisfied with the eternal life He gives them. To partake of the bread of life is to embrace all that Jesus is – every word, every command, every promise. It is a complete surrender of everything we are, repentance (turning away) of everything we were, and a faith that looks to Him to be the source and substance of our very lives. In a very real way, our dead spirit that was separated from God by sin becomes alive as His Spirit indwells us, bringing us eternal life that starts now and extends into a future we can’t yet comprehend.
Paul said it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Have you partaken of the Bread of Life? Do you believe? This is the promise that Jesus makes:
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (6:35)
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (6:40)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” (6:47)
Jesus knew that not all people would believe in Him, and His heart was moved with compassion because of it. Real love tells people the whole truth. Eternal life is only found in Jesus.
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)
“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
Oh, my friend…I pray that you hear the Father’s voice, that you learn, and believe.